Wednesday 12 September 2012

Bible Book:

"Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be known in all the earth. Shout aloud and sing for joy, O royal Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel." (vv. 5-6)

Isaiah 12:1-6 Wednesday 12 September 2012


This passage comes from First Isaiah, the 8th century prophetliving in Jerusalem at the time of the wars with Assyria. Thischapter concludes the first part of the book with a psalm givingthanks and praise to God for the salvation foretold in the preceding chapter, where God promisesdeliverance. Isaiah provides a vision of hope for the future forthe faithful remnant who trust in God. This image of salvation isclosely linked to the earlier deliverance of the people of Israel,where "when they came up from the land of Egypt" (Isaiah11:16). While still in the wilderness, they sang songs ofdeliverance (Exodus 15:2). Here too, praise and thanksgivingare the appropriate response for the faithful people waiting inhope: "Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not beafraid" (v. 2).

In Isaiah's prophecy, God will intervene, with a child to beborn, who may have been the child of the king, perhaps Hezekiah (Isaiah9:6-7). For Isaiah, God, "the Holy One of Israel", was thoughtliterally to dwell in the midst of Israel, in the temple inJerusalem, and God's son was the Davidic king. This promise of anew king on the throne of David was the source of the traditionfollowed by Matthew's Gospel in its narrative of the birth of Jesus(Matthew 1:23), and so the Messianic promise ofIsaiah became a Christian understanding of Jesus, coming as achild, but 'God with us'.

The passages we are reading this week all refer to the promiseof God's presence among his faithful people. Here, despite war anddeportation, despite the destruction of kingdoms and the fall ofkings, God is still 'with us', still acting with authority overearthly powers and powers of evil. No matter how terrible theevents in the world may seem to us, there is hope: God is here, andGod will act to deliver us. It is perhaps an irony of history thatthis reading is provided for this week, when we remember theanniversary of the terrible destruction of the Twin Towers in NewYork City. But it is just at times like this, when our minds focuson the dangers of evil forces in the world, that Scripture providesa counterbalance. God, the Holy One of Israel, is with us, and Godwill save us, however desperate our situation.

To Ponder

  • Is a historical understanding of the Messianic prophecies ofIsaiah helpful to you, or do you find it troubling to think thatIsaiah may not have been foretelling the birth of Jesus? Why?
  • Where is God in your understanding of horrific acts ofterrorism and war?

Previous Page Tuesday 11 September 2012
Next Page Thursday 13 September 2012